Bala plays down continental ambitions for Niger Tornadoes

By Wale Mustapha

Niger Tornadoes is an unusual occupant on the top four of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) log but that is the true reflection of their performance especially in the last nine fixtures.

The team that plays at the adopted home ground of Confluence Stadium in Lokoja away from their base in Minna has won six of their last games including a famous away win to Remo Stars in Shagamu and a big boost home win in Lokoja against former champions, Enyimba.

With 24 points, four adrift of leaders, Plateau United, Tornadoes can brag about title chances or at least a continental ambition. But the club’s manager, Abubakar Bala is playing down any such considerations which he considers a distraction that will put pressure on the squad at this point in the campaign.

Tornadoes defeated Sunshine Stars by 2-1 on the Matchday 15 last Sunday in Lokoja courtesy of a late strike from Lukas Yahaya to give the 'Ikon Allah Boys' all three points.

While the team has made steady progress to the top and being reckoned with as one of the top contenders, Bala is keeping a distance from the favourite tag and insists his own target is to finish in the top half of the table at the end of the season.

Asked of his impressions of the win against Sunshine Stars, Bala suggested it was possibly the toughest game for his side so far and went on to heap praises on his players for their belief and resolve to win the match.

“Sunshine gave us a good fight, they threatened us till the tail end and considering our first half performance and the goal, we knew we could sense victory and eventually had the chance to put the game to bed late in the second half.

“We lost numerous chances including the penalty, but we put in a strong performance in terms of character. I compliment the players on keeping their heads even after the equalizer and we did well not to have lost our calm and stayed in the game at all times to win the match”, Bala spoke to on the match.

Responding to questions on Tornadoes ambitions, he said, "I wouldn't want to be talking about things like that now, it's still early days, 15 matches from 38? We still have long rivers to cross, though we are in good stead now as our performances keep on improving and the boys are playing with good mentality now.

"I'm still on what I said before, our target this season is top ten finish, I think we are getting there now, if we keep on playing like have done with big of improvements and taking our scoring chances which is very important, who knows we can claim the tickets, but bringing that up now will bring unnecessary pressure on us," the former FC Lokoja handler said.

Technical Adviser of Remo Stars Football Club, Osho Fatai has indicated that the team needs to start picking points on the road and getting maximum points against Enugu Rangers will be great for his team.

The Sky Blue Stars defeated Wikki Tourist Football Club 2-1 at the Gateway International Stadium in Match Day 15 of the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) over the weekend.

Speaking with RSFC Media, Osho also says that the way a team plays in the Nigeria League determines the team's point on the league.

"We need to start picking points on the road, getting maximum points against the defending champions will be spectacular."

"This is the Premier League where you play on the field of play determines your points and that's what is exactly what we have in mind going to Enugu." Osho reacted.

The Sky Blue Stars tackle defending champions, Enugu Rangers at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu on Wednesday.

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